Guns and Juveniles
From K.C.G. v. State, decided Monday by the Indiana Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Slaughter:
Under Indiana law, only juvenile courts have power to adjudicate a child a delinquent. The delinquency alleged here is that respondent, K.C.G., age 16, committed the offense of dangerous possession of a firearm….
[But j]uvenile courts have “exclusive original jurisdiction” to hear proceedings in which the State alleges that a child committed “an act that would be an offense”—a crime—”if committed by an adult.” Yet under the governing statute, an adult can never commit this offense. The statute defines the offense solely in terms of a “child” with an unauthorized firearm…. [W]e vacate K.C.G.’s delinquency adjudication ….
In November 2018, K.C.G. stole a car, crashed it, and fled the scene. After police caught him, they searched his person and found marijuana. The State alleged that K.C.G. committed four delinquent acts, and the parties agreed that K.C.G. would admit to two delinquent acts in exchange for the State dismissing the other two. The juvenile court accepted the agreement, placed K.C.G. on probation, and, relevant here, ordered him to attend a day-reporting program, which offers a structured setting for rehabilitating juvenile offenders.
The rehabilitation did not last long. A week into his program, K.C.G. told others at his day-reporting site that he had a gun and a bomb and threatened to use one of them. His probation officer, along with police, went to his home and searched his bedroom. During the search, police found a rifle and arrested K.C.G. The State later filed a delinquency petition alleging he had violated the
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